High-stakes Showdown between JPR and SOU

Paulie Brading

State Representative Peter Buckley, State Senator Alan Bates, Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler and Ashland Mayor John Stromberg are calling for a stand-down in a dispute between Southern Oregon University and the Jefferson Public Radio Foundation. They are calling for a 60 day cooling off period.

The dispute began when an audit by the Oregon University System suggested that JPR's Foundation's nonradio projects could overextend JPR financially. JPR is midway in the restoration of the Holly Theater in downtown Medford and beginning contruction of a new JPR headquarters, moving from its former location in Ashland to Medford.

The audit said JPR and it's foundation should have seperate executive directors. The audit triggered debate among JPR officials and led Mary Cullinan, president of Southern Oregon University to terminate Ron Kramer, executive director of the radio stations, as of June 30. Kramer is also the Executive Director of the JPR foundation.

Rumors of lawsuit threats against foundation board members raised the situation to a sort of "scorched-earth policy unfolding for the JPR board" according to Mayor Gary Wheeler.

Jefferson Public Radio has a 40 year history with stations from Mendocino, CA. to Eugene and Lakeview. Mayor Wheeler stated he views JPR as a cultural asset to the whole area.

JPR donors strongly support the station and the value of service to the community. One former member of the JPR Foundation board resigned after four years of board membership because she believed JPR should get back to the business of radio, not real estate development, concert promotion, historic preservation, and Internet provision. Another board member is astounded that there may be an effort to disassemble JPR and the JPR Foundation.

With state legislators and mayors weighing in to ask for a cooling off period, it is time to unring this bell. In the meantime avoid all coffee shops in Ashland and Medford until this matter is settled. The buzz about JPR and SOU could cause deafness.

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    Unfortunate events. I hope JPR can be salvaged. It is such an asset to Southern Oregon. As a former Ashland resident it was a godsend to me.

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    Governor Kitzhaber has joined in the call for a cooling off period between JPR and SOU. Front page of the Medford Mail Tribune this am.

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